Interview with Majid Farzi

The recent election results from Iran seemed to indicate a return to hardline religious leadership. I thought it would be interesting for readers to get the point of view from someone who knew Iran before the revolution of 1979. Uncle Pauly spoke with Majid Farzi who now lives in Switzerland.

UP: Majid, tell us when you left Iran and the reasons for leaving? Can you briefly describe how you ended up living in Switzerland?

Well I left the country in early 80s and the reason for that is that they don’t tolerate freethinker. Switzerland is a good country to live in.

UP: What connections do you still have with Iran? Do you still have family and friends in the Islamic Republic?

I have both family and friends back in Iran I have good contacts with them.

UP: Was the recent election victory of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a surprise for you? Most mainstream commentators in the West predicted a victory for Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

Those who wished rafsanjani are surprised or maybe disappointed I am neither. I can only say like father like son.

UP: The US described the recent Iranian election as “flawed”. Would you agree with that statement? Do you think the elections were totally free?

Free election is something else, fascism always uses free election but never do it.

UP: The US also said the election result was “out of step” with the recent trends towards democracy in the middle-east. Do you think Western-style democracy would be good for the Iranian people? Do you think Iran wants such a system?

No one ever asked Iranians what they like. They always ask governing power and the answer is the same as it has been in case of NAZI-Germany and Vichy-France Duce-Italy Franco-Spain and so on. Western-style democracy is a legacy of Marcus Aurelius, Jesus Christ, Mazdak, Ibn Khaldun, Martin Luther, Sir Thomas More, Karl Marx and Franklin d. Roosevelt. It is good for everywhere.

UP: How would you describe Iranian society today and how does it differ from the time of the Shah? Is there a gulf of ideas between the Islamic clerics and the general population?

The society in shah system was a product of 150 years old hope of modernism plus western controlled despotism. Today’s system is a 1500 years old mummy that has been awaken by post modern Dr. Frankensteins. There is a struggle between hope and fear in the society.

UP: The population of Iran is very young : 60% or Iranians are under 30. Do you think this will have an effect in the future?

The demography of Iranian society makes the struggle between hope and fear more intensive but it doesn’t change its nature.

UP: Do you think there is any desire at all in Iran for a military removal of the Iranian government by the US and her allies? Would that be a disaster for Iran?

This desire is existing and it is a disaster, but probably there is no alternative for it as there were no alternatives in case of NAZI-Germany and Vichy-France.

UP: Many people in the West wonder why the Iranian people show no real desire for big change? Is this because they are happy with the current systems or because they simply think they cannot change anything?

They feel helpless and disoriented and betrayed , they know however the legacy of Western-style democracy very well and they keep hoping. You can ask the french people how they did feel between 1940-1944 in Paris.

UP: Majid, do you ever see yourself and your family moving back to Iran? If so, what would have to happen for you to move back?

My family will make their own decision and I will mine when the mummy is back to sleep.

UP: Was the recent election victory of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a surprise for you? Most mainstream commentators in the West predicted a victory for Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

Those who wished rafsanjani are surprised or maybe disappointed I am neither. I can only say like father like son.

……That’s interesting, you seem to say there is little difference between the two. Is there any politician in Iran right now who you think is comitted to real change?

The governing system in Iran is based on coalition between Mulahs, conservative Bazar, and religious Neo -liberal. Outside this coalition there is no political power in the country and inside them no will for change anything. This is the typical coalition to build fascism see for that Anatomy of Fascism by Robert O. Paxton*. You can never change fascism from within.

……. When you say “no one ever asked Iranian what they like. “, you seem to be implying that the Iranian leaders are afraid to ask the question?

Yes they are. UP: How would you describe Iranian society today and how does it differ from the time of the Shah? Is there a gulf of ideas between the Islamic clerics and the general population?

The society in shah system was a product of 150 years old hope of modernism plus western controlled despotism. Todays system is a 1500 years old mummy that has been awaken by post modern Dr. Frankensteins. There is a struggle between hope and fear in the society.

…… So you’re saying that the old Shah system had its bad points and today’s system is equally as bad . . . ? Do you think there is any desire for a return of the Shah or a similar monarchical style of society?

No, I am not saying they are equally bad. The old system was a “strict father” where this one is a stepfather who abuse the family. For your second question I don’t know a good answer.

UP: Do you think there is any desire at all in Iran for a military removal of the Iranian government by the US and her allies? Would that be a disaster for Iran?

This desire is existing and it would be a disaster, but probably there is no alternative for it as there were no alternatives in case of NAZI-Germany and Vichy-France.

…… there is a lot of world opinion that would be against US intervention in Iran. Do you think the UN could ever play a role that would bring about change in Iran?

UN can put sanction on Mulahs and this will be helpful. But for changes you must strenghen the hope and weaken the fear.

UP: Many people in the West wonder why the Iranian people show no real desire for big change? Is this because they are happy with the current systems or because they simply think they cannot change anything?

They feel helpless and disoriented and betrayed , they know however the legacy of Western-style democracy very well and they keep hoping. You can ask the french people how they did feel between 1940-1944 in Paris.

….. You imply that western-style democracy is the cure for the Iranian people’s problems. Some people say that Islam and democracy connot co-exist. Is there any way for western-style democracy to co-exist with a strict Islamic culture?

Who says that Iran’s society must be govern by “strict Islamic culture”? as matter of fact this “strict Islamic culture” is an imported good in Iran. This culture has been manufactured somewhere else. See Paul Berman’s Terror and Liberalism**.

. . . You say “imported good”. . . from where and by whom? Is there one single source of this “import” or several? And just how come such an extreme form of Islam been so successfully exported?

I think an interview has not enough room for finding the roots of Islamic extremism. One thing is sure, it has not been a successful story for them, what is going on. There has been an untiring resistance in last 25 years in Iran against mullahs. 120 thousands executions of political activist speaks for itself.

UP: Majid, can you tell us a little about the expatriate Iranian community in Europe? Are there many of them? Do they communicate regularly? Do they ever meet in person to discuss what’s happening?

The community is large but is not strong. They talk with each other regularly but not necessarily in person. They use the usual communication media that are available in Europe.

UP: Amongst the Iranian expatriate/refugee community is there a strong single opinion about Iran’s future forming or are the ideas fragmented? More importantly is there a leader emerging?

Why there should be a “strong single opinion” or a “leader” none of these are part of democracy.

UP: Let me ask you about Salman Rushdie. Would you consider him the voice of free thinkers everywhere or a silly fool who played with fire and should have known better?

Mr. Rushdi is a big voice but only one and he knows what he says.

UP: Can you recommend any good web-sites or Blogs for Westerners to read on Iranian society?

yes, http://www.google.com/ 

UP: what about removal of the Iranian leaders from within? Is it really totally impossible for another revolution to occur? A revolution that would “put the mummy back to sleep” but do it in a way that would involve less bloodshed than say Iraq?

A revolution is possible and will happen if the system becomes weak enough.

. . . . . do you see any signs of weakness at all in the current regime? Can you give us an example of certain things that would indicate a weakening of the regime?

There are many but let me give you two examples. Sistani the number one now is Iraq -based and not Iranian AND he is not an extremist. Ahmadinejad is the another indication, why, otherwise, should mullahs make one of their butlers president. They cannot govern, not powerfully, anymore.

UP: What do you think the Iranian Mullahs reaction is to events in Iraq? Are they worried about the possibility of increasing Iraqi freedom influencing Iran and the Iranian people?

The mullahs said Iraq is the showdown. The decision will be made in Iraq.

UP: What do the people of Iran, and you in the expatriate community, feel about the situation in Iraq? The number of deaths and amount of terror seems to rise steadily every day…is it a price worth paying or is it time to get out?

The Iranians, also, think that situation in Iraq will make the decision.

UP: If the US and her allies did leave Iraq , what effect would this have on the Iranian leaders? Would they, for example, become more aggressive to Israel?

In word yes, in deed no.

UP: Thank you for talking to us.

Thank you.

* A scholarly tome on Fascism by a Professor at Columbia Uni. Read reviews here.
** Paul Berman’s book essentially presents a left wing rationale for the GWOT. Read reviews here.

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